City faces tough road with assets

Ogdensburg City Hall

OGDENSBURG — The 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan presented by Ogdensburg City Manager Sarah Purdy lays out an ambitious effort to keep the city’s physical assets and infrastructure up to date.

“The city is not able to fully fund a lot of the equipment and infrastructure needs,” Ms. Purdy said to kick off her presentation. “We’re doing about a fraction of what we should be doing.”

As examples she pointed to roads in disrepair and a wastewater treatment plant awaiting a $35 million makeover.

Ms. Purdy’s spreadsheets showed the steep climb the city faces in 2020.

In 2018 the city spent $798,000 from its general fund on capital expenses. $636,333 is budgeted for 2019 while the 2020 estimate is $4,921,000.

Similar increases are noted in the water and sewer funds. The water fund has $101,533 budgeted for 2019, compared to a 2020 estimate of $2,925,000. The sewer fund has a budget of $81,534 in 2019 and a 2020 estimate of $1,025,000.

“Needless to say, we are getting backed up on what we have been able to do versus what we need to be doing,” Ms. Purdy said.

The 2020 numbers look alarming but Ms. Purdy explained they are without taking into account federal and state aid and other grants that might be available.

Ms. Purdy listed equipment needs that are coming up in 2020, which included $120,000 for a dump truck, $80,000 for heavy equipment for the Department of Public Works, $87,000 for two new police vehicles, $30,000 for a new fingerprint system, $21,000 for a police radio upgrade, $387,000 for a new fire department pumper engine and $60,000 for a fire department command vehicle.

She said that there is a good chance that the cost of the fire department pumper could come down considerably.

In 2020 Ms. Purdy said there is an estimate of $445,000 for streets, sidewalks and curbs, but state money in the CHIPS program could pay for much of it. There is also a plan to completely rebuild East David Street to include the street, sewer main, sidewalks and curbing at the cost of $1,500,000.

“The Spring Street Bridge is still hanging out there at $1.5 million,” Ms. Purdy said. “I’ve talked to you about it in previous years. We applied for a Bridge NY grant and did not get it, so we’re still going to be looking for other options to help fund the repairs that are needed there.”

There are many issues in the City Hall that need to be addressed, she said. The heating system needs to be upgraded, the elevator needs to be replaced and the roof is leaking badly.

“This has been put off for way to long already and I don’t know if we are going to be able to address it next year either,” she said.

The police department building the fire station and Lockwood Arena all need work.

There is nearly $3 million worth of work needed in the city’s water system.

Much of that is part of a water filtration plant and system improvement capital project that is coming up.

“You are going to get a presentation on the preliminary engineering report for that project later this year,” Ms. Purdy said. “That is a project that includes not only the plant itself, but the intake, the towers and a lot of the infrastructure. It needs attention so that we are not spending an additional $35 million there because we waited decades and didn’t address the stuff now.”

Ms. Purdy added that there will be a lot of opportunities for grant funding for this work.

Ms. Purdy’s recommendations included work on the Financial Restructuring Board’s fleet management recommendation that suggested exploring leasing arrangements for vehicles.

“We definitely do need to take a look at that,” she said.

The city needs to continue to look at funding sources such as the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Developments and Consolidated Funding Applications.

“This is not a fun presentation,” she said. “But we are doing what we can to meet our capital needs. I wish we could do more. I am hopeful that the day will come when we can, but I don’t see it in 2020.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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